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Why Marriott Stock Dropped 6% This Morning

By Rich Smith – Apr 15, 2020 at 12:05PM

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One banker crunches the numbers and comes away unimpressed.

What happened

On Tuesday, hotelier Marriott International (MAR -0.26%) announced some preliminary Q1 2020 numbers, including a 23% drop in revenue per available room (RevPAR), and a 60% drop in RevPAR for the month of March alone. With 25% of the company's 7,300 properties still closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, those numbers perhaps weren't as shocking as they might have been, and investors bid up Marriott stock by 5.9% in response to the news on Tuesday.

Today, however, Marriott is giving most of those gains back. As of 11:15 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, shares of the hotel chain were down 5.5%.

Glowing red stock chart arrow trending down

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Marriott shares are going down the day after it released bad news probably because of an announcement by investment bank Jefferies.

Crunching the numbers and digesting "both the knowns and the unknowns," Jefferies said, it cut its price target on Marriott stock this morning from $96 to $90. It did this not just because of the likely Q1 2020 slowdown, but also because the bank expects that Marriott's business won't bounce back quite as strongly as some investors may have been hoping for.

RevPAR could increase 43% in 2021 off this year's low numbers, says Jefferies in a note covered by this morning, as Marriott's business recovers from the 2020 recession. But while that might sound pretty good, such an increase would still leave the company doing business at a rate 5% below where it was in 2019, essentially translating to flat to negative growth for two years running.

Now what

In Jefferies' opinion, this prospect is worth no more than a hold rating on Marriott stock. And yet this analyst also says that the Marriott shares are worth $90. Given that the shares cost only $78 and change today, doesn't this imply 15% upside to the stock? Isn't that worth more than just a hold rating?

Seems to me something's off in the analyst's analysis. Either Marriott is a hold, and not worth your investing dollars, or it's worth $90 a share -- and is a buy. But it cannot be both.

Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Marriott International. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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